Respawn Entertainment is gearing up for the launch of Titanfall 2, which comes out on 28 October 2016, and the game will ship with a patch to enable it to run on the PS4 Pro with some enhancements. The PS4 Pro, in case you haven’t heard, is Sony’s next PlayStation console, belonging to the PS4 family but carrying much more powerful hardware to run games and VR experiences more comfortably. Titanfall 2, as it turns out, didn’t need much tweaking to get it to run better on the new console, but it’s still not going to have that compatibility on launch day.
“We did not get much of a heads up, like most people,” said executive producer Drew McCoy, in an interview with Stevivor.com. “So we didn’t get a ton of time. Like no-one even knew about it until… I don’t even know, but it was late. Since it’s just the PS4, but faster, it’s really not that hard to say ‘when running on PS4 do this, and when running on PS4 Pro do that.”
“Because we also made the PC version, we have some knobs we can tweak, so we just spent some time making sure it still runs well and looks good on PS4 Pro. You know, making sure it doesn’t look any worse at all. That’s the requirement: it can’t run any worse or look worse than on PS4. So it runs better, looks better and has no bugs on PS4 Pro.”
McCoy confirmed some details about the game’s setup on the new console as well. It will support resolution scaling like the other consoles it ships on, but it won’t ever have to drop below 1080p, something that the original PS4 can’t do. It’ll also have higher resolution shadows, more complex geometry, and a more stable frame rate.
Developers working with the PS4 system first heard about the PS4 Pro early this year from Sony, with the new system previously codenamed “Neo”. Games under development at the time had two options: ship before September and run a patch to enable it to run on the Neo in base mode, or delay the title beyond October 2016 and work on a Neo-specific mode for the game as well. This made things somewhat tricky, as I detailed in my column about misconceptions surrounding the PS4 Pro, because there are slight differences in how animations and physics simulations run on the new console.
Not only that, but there are points (or windows) where developers need to mark which code runs asynchronously so that animations and frames are completed on time for regular games as well as PS VR titles. If there’s nothing more that can be allocated to those windows, then there’s free performance left on the table. This left developers with the difficult decision to delay projects to add features for the Neo mode that could be considered frivolous, or redesign parts of the game for the Neo mode first, and make it work on the PS4 by disabling features.
This may be the reason why many prominent PS4 titles are seeing delays of a few months or more – it’s all to accommodate the Neo mode and any new features made for it, because Sony stipulates that there needs to be Neo features available in every future PS4 title.
Titanfall 2 launches on 28 October 2016 for PlayStation 4, Xbox One (and One S), and is one of the first titles to boast PS4 Pro compatibility. Sony’s PS4 Pro begins shipping to consumers on 1o November 2016 in North America, and costs $399 for the 500GB base model with a redesigned controller. The retail price for the console in South Africa is expected to be R7,000.